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Maine at Boston College: The Return of the King

Mike Cavanaugh is a talented and helpful assistant coach, but Jerry York is back. No further explanation is necessary.

York returns to the Boston College hockey bench after a four-game absence, and his team needs him. BC has been in their typical January slump where one night they’ll look poor, the next night great, and then fall flat in the game thereafter. It’s not uncommon for the Eagles to be inconsistent at this time of year, but the “Trophy Season” is only a few weeks from starting, and that’s when BC needs to start rolling.

Of course, the best time to start — or in BC’s case, continue — a winning streak is always right now. The Eagles won their most recent contest, a 9-3 punishment of Northeastern, and now turn their attention to the Maine Black Bears. The visitors are in town for a two-game weekend series that will see games on Friday and Saturday nights at Conte Forum.

BC has played Maine once this year already, but the game was over two and a half months ago. In that contest in Orono, the Eagles won, 4-2. The last time the Eagles had been there, they got swept by the Black Bears and surely this team would like to repay the favor. Yet, we should not downplay or revise history, since it was that sweep by Maine that lit a fire under BC that stayed burning all the way to the national championship. Nevertheless, you’d rather be winning than losing, and you could say Boston College is catching Maine at a good time: the Black Bears, the Hockey East runners-up in March, are dead last in the standings at 5-14-4 (1-9-4). They’ve gotten just six points in fourteen games played, with their only victory coming at UMass-Lowell on November 10. Since then, Maine is 0-4-4 in Hockey East play.

Simply put, they stink. At 23 games, Maine has played the most games of anyone in the conference, and they still have the fewest goals by a mile. The Black Bears average just a hair over one and a half goals per game, and they give up about two and three-quarters. So does Boston College, more or less, but the difference is that the Eagles have the most potent offense in Hockey East with 3.62 goals per game.

Maine’s power play and BC’s could not be more different: BC leads the conference with an excellent 22.4% conversion rate, while Maine is in the basement with a dreadful 9%. Their penalty kill has been average, which is one of the few points in their favor. Defensively, Maine isn’t great, but it far exceeds their offense. The team leader in points for the Black Bears is Connor Leen, who has just 11. He also leads the team with all of six goals. They certainly miss players like Spencer Abbott and Brian Flynn, the two top point scorers for Maine last year who graduated and took all the offense with them. Even Joey Diamond, the new team captain who had 47 points last season and made the All-Hockey East Second Team, has vanished this year with nine points in 20 games (taking 30 penalties has probably not helped).

Compare all of this to Boston College: Johnny Gaudreau, BC’s top point scorer so far (31), has twenty more points than Maine’s team leader, with twice as many goals — and Gaudreau missed some time for the World Juniors. Six Eagles, including a defenseman in Mike Matheson of all people, have more points than Maine’s team leader. That speaks for itself.

Maine is a team clearly hurting from having lost its two best players and guys like Diamond who should be leading the team, aren’t. January slump or not, Boston College is a far superior team to Maine and if they get some goals on the board, the Black Bears will have severe difficulty keeping up. The Eagles must be thinking sweep.

Both games begin at 7pm Eastern.

Tags: Boston College Eagles Hockey Maine Black Bears

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